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Kenneth Chenault

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Ken Chenault
Kenneth Irvine Chenault

(1951-06-02) June 2, 1951 (age 73)
EducationBowdoin College (BA)
Harvard University (JD)
OccupationFormer CEO of American Express[1][2]
SpouseKathryn Chenault

Kenneth Irvine Chenault (born June 2, 1951) is an American business executive. He was the CEO and Chairman of American Express from 2001 until 2018.[3][4] He became the third African American CEO of a Fortune 500 company.[5] He is currently the Chairman of the global venture capital firm, General Catalyst.

Early life and education[edit]

Chenault was born in Mineola, New York, the son of a dentist and dental hygienist.[6] His father, Hortenius Chenault, was a graduate of Morehouse College and Howard University Dental School. The elder Chenault passed the New York State dental exam with the highest score ever recorded as of January 2014.[7] Chenault is a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. Kenneth Chenault attended the Waldorf School of Garden City,[8] where he was senior class president.[6] He then received a B.A. in history from Bowdoin College in 1973 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1976.


Chenault began his career as an associate at the law firm Rogers & Wells (1977–1979) in New York City, and as a consultant for Bain & Company (1979–1981).[9][10]

Chenault joined American Express in 1981, working in its Strategic Planning Group.[11] He became president and chief operating officer in 1997.[11] He became CEO of American Express in 2001.[12]

Chenault has sat on several boards throughout his career. Beginning in 2007, he was on the executive committee of the Business Roundtable[13][14] and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[15] Chenault was a member of the executive committee of The Business Council in 2011 and 2012.[16]

In 1995, Ebony listed him as one of 50 "living pioneers" in the African-American community.[17] Chenault was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2008, he gave the commencement address at Howard University.[18]

In May 2010, he gave the commencement speech at Wake Forest University[19] and Northeastern University.[20]

As CEO of American Express in 2007 and 2008, Chenault earned a total compensation of $50,126,585[21] and $42,752,461[22] respectively. In 2009, he earned a total compensation of $16,617,639, which included a base salary of $1,201,923, a cash bonus of $10,450,000, an option grant of $3,985,637, and other compensation worth $980,079.[23] In 2016, Chenault earned a total compensation of $22 million.[24]

On October 18, 2017, he announced that he would retire as its chairman and chief executive on February 1, 2018. He was succeeded by Stephen J. Squeri.[25] In December 2018, it was announced that Chenault would step down from his board roles at IBM and Procter & Gamble on February 13, 2019.[26]

In January 2018, Chenault announced he would become chairman and managing director of General Catalyst Partners[27] and joined the board of directors of Airbnb.[28] Chenault has been on the board of directors of Facebook since February 2018.[28][29] In March 2020 it was announced that Chenault was stepping down from the Facebook board and joining the board of Berkshire Hathaway, replacing Bill Gates.[30][31]

Civic activities[edit]

On November 15, 2010, Old North Foundation recognized Chenault with its Third Lantern Award for individual commitment and dedication to public service. The Foundation honored Chenault and American Express for their significant contributions to the preservation efforts of many significant monuments and landmark structures, including the steeple of the Old North Church.[32] Chenault and wife, Kathryn, are founding donors to the Art for Justice Fund, which aims to reduce prison populations and strengthen employment opportunities for those leaving.[33]

On February 10, 2014, it was announced that he had been elected to fill a vacated seat of the Harvard Corporation; the Corporation is the chief fiduciary authority of the university and is the smaller of the two governing boards, the other being the Harvard Board of Overseers.[9][34]

On February 6, 2017, Chenault was named chair of the advisory council for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.[35]

In April 2019, he was appointed as a member of the NCAA's Board of Governors.[36] In 2021, he appeared on the Time 100, Time's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Chenault resides in New Rochelle, New York, with his wife and children.[38] Chenault is a member of Westchester Country Club.[39]


  1. ^ "American Express CEO Ken Chenault: 'There's a $25 trillion opportunity'". fortune.com. Retrieved 2015-08-09.
  2. ^ "An interview with Kenneth Chenault, CEO at American Express". london.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-09.
  3. ^ "Board of Directors and Executive Officers". American Express. Archived from the original on 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
  4. ^ "Kenneth I Chenault profile". Forbes. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
  5. ^ White, Gillian B. "There Are Currently 4 Black CEOs in the Fortune. 500". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  6. ^ a b "Kenneth Chenault Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story". Biography.com. 1951-06-02. Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  7. ^ "Chenault, Hortenius · Notable Kentucky African Americans Database". nkaa.uky.edu. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  8. ^ lived in the incorporated village of Hempstead."Ken Chenault: The Rise of a Star" Business Week Dec. 21, 1998
  9. ^ a b "Kenneth Chenault: Corporate CEO". CNN. February 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
  10. ^ "Kenneth I. Chenault". whitehouse.gov. Archived from the original on 22 January 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2013 – via National Archives.
  11. ^ a b Bianco, Anthony (December 21, 1998). "KEN CHENAULT: THE RISE OF A STAR". Business Week. Archived from the original on October 4, 1999. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
  12. ^ Moyer, Liz (2017-10-18). "American Express CEO Ken Chenault to leave after 17-year run". CNBC. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  13. ^ "About us: Officers". Business Roundtable. Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
  14. ^ "Business Roundtable". www.businessroundtable.org. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  15. ^ See for example the transcript of a luncheon over which he presided: "New Realities in the Media Age: A Conversation with Donald Rumsfeld". Council on Foreign Relations. February 17, 2006. Archived from the original on August 10, 2008. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
  16. ^ The Business Council, Official website, Executive Committee Archived 2013-07-21 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "50 who changed America – influential African Americans". Ebony. November 1995. Archived from the original on 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2007-05-11.
  18. ^ "Commencement Speech at Howard University". Howard.edu. 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  19. ^ American Express CEO to deliver address, Window on Wake Forest, March 22, 2010. Accessed 2010-03-22.
  20. ^ May commencement speakers announced Archived 2010-03-25 at the Wayback Machine, Northeastern University, March 22, 2010. Accessed 2010-03-23.
  21. ^ 2007 CEO Compensation for Kenneth I. Chenault Archived 2009-04-14 at the Wayback Machine, Equilar
  22. ^ 2008 CEO Compensation for Kenneth I. Chenault Archived 2009-04-14 at the Wayback Machine, Equilar
  23. ^ 2009 CEO Compensation for Kenneth I. Chenault Archived 2009-04-14 at the Wayback Machine, Equilar
  24. ^ "American Express Lifts Chenault's Pay 19% to $22 Million for '16". Bloomberg.com. 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  25. ^ Andriotis, AnnaMaria (2017-10-18). "American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault to Step Down After 16 Years". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  26. ^ "Former AmEx Chief Ken Chenault Leaves Director Posts at P&G, IBM". Bloomberg. 27 December 2018. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  27. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross (2018). "For His Next Act, Ken Chenault Turns His Focus on Silicon Valley". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  28. ^ a b Carson, Biz. "Airbnb Adds Outgoing American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault To Board of Directors". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  29. ^ "Investor Relations". Facebook. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  30. ^ Reuters: March, 13, 2020:
  31. ^ Black Enterprise: March, 13, 2020: Kenneth Chenault leaves Facebook board as he is appointed to board of Berkshire Hathaway
  32. ^ "Kenneth Chenault, American Express Chairman and CEO Receives". Bloomberg. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  33. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (2017-06-11). "Agnes Gund Sells a Lichtenstein to Start Criminal Justice Fund". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  34. ^ "Kenneth Chenault and Karen Gordon Mills to join Harvard Corporation". 10 February 2014.
  35. ^ "National Museum of African American History and Culture Names Kenneth I. Chenault Chairman of its Advisory Council". National Museum of African American History and Culture. 2017-02-06. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  36. ^ "NCAA adds 5 independent voices to Board of Governors". Washington Post. April 30, 2019. Archived from the original on May 13, 2019. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  37. ^ Haynes, Danielle (September 15, 2021). "Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Simone Biles top TIME 100 list". UPI. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  38. ^ Sexton, Julia (2009-01-23). "Westchester Magazine". Westchester Magazine. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  39. ^ "Ken Chenault Net Worth | How rich is Ken Chenault?". www.celebritynews24-7.com. Archived from the original on 2018-01-10.

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by CEO of American Express
Succeeded by